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Childhood asthma, food allergy may up anxiety disorder risk

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Toronto, Jan 5: If your child is suffering from chronic illness such as asthma or food allergy, he or she is more likely to develop anxiety or other mental health disorders, finds a study

The findings showed that anxiety disorders were most common, including separation anxiety, generalised anxiety and phobias, in kids with chronic illness such as asthma, food allergy, epilepsy, diabetes or juvenile arthritis.

For the study, detailed in the journal BMJ Open, the team from the University of Waterloo surveyed children between the age of six and 16.

According to parents’ responses to a standardised interview, 58 per cent of children screened positive for at least one mental disorder.

Six months after diagnosis, the number of kids showing signs of a mental disorder dipped slightly to 42 per cent.

“These findings show that risk for mental disorder is relatively the same among children with different physical conditions,” said Mark Ferro, Professor at Waterloo.

“Regardless of their condition, children with physical and mental health problems experience a significant decline in their quality life within the first six months after receiving their diagnosis, indicating a need for mental health services early on,” Ferro added

The researchers found that age and gender had no impact on the results. A subset of kids self-reported on their own mental health.

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Eating muesli in breakfast may help combat arthritis

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London, Jan 13: Eating a fibre-rich breakfast consisting of muesli and enough fruit and vegetables throughout the day everyday can help maintain a rich variety of bacterial species in the gut, which may have positive influence on chronic inflammatory joint diseases, and prevent bone loss, a study has found.

The findings, led by researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg (FAU) in Germany, showed that a healthy diet rich in fibre is capable of changing intestinal bacteria in such a way that more short-chained fatty acids, in particular propionate, are formed.

Short-chained fatty acids are important for the body as they provide energy, stimulate intestinal movement and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

“We were able to show that a bacteria-friendly diet has an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as a positive effect on bone density,” said lead author Mario Zaiss from the FAU.

“We are not able to give any specific recommendations for a bacteria-friendly diet at the moment, but eating muesli every morning as well as enough fruit and vegetables throughout the day helps to maintain a rich variety of bacterial species,” Zaiss added.

In the study, published in Nature Communications, the team focussed on the short-chain fatty acids propionate and butyrate, which are formed during the fermentation processes caused by intestinal bacteria.

These fatty acids can be found, for example, in the joint fluid and it is assumed that they have an important effect on the functionality of joints.

The researchers also proved that a higher concentration of short-chained fatty acids, for example in bone marrow, where propionate caused a reduction in the number of bone-degrading cells, slowing bone degradation down considerably.

“Our findings offer a promising approach for developing innovative therapies for inflammatory joint diseases as well as for treating osteoporosis, which is often suffered by women after the menopause,” Zaiss noted.

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This human heart-muscle patch can boost heart attack recovery

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New York, Jan 13: Novel heart-muscle patches made with human cells can significantly improve recovery from a heart attack, results of a clinical trial show.

The results are a step closer to the goal of treating human heart attacks by suturing cardiac-muscle patches over an area of dead heart muscle in order to reduce the pathology that often leads to heart failure, said scientists led by Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, Chair of University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In the study, described in the journal Circulation, the team tested human cardiac-muscle patches of 1.57 by 0.79 inches in size and nearly as thick as a dime, created in the lab, on large animals in a heart attack model.

Transplanting two of these patches onto the infarcted area of a pig heart significantly improved function of the heart’s left ventricle, the major pumping chamber.

The patches also significantly reduced infarct size, which is the area of dead muscle, heart-muscle wall stress and heart-muscle enlargement, as well as significantly reducing apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in the scar boarder area around the dead heart muscle.

Furthermore, the patches did not induce arrhythmia in the hearts — improper beating of the heart, too fast or too slow.

Each patch was made from a mixture of three cell types — four million cardiomyocytes, or heart-muscle cells, two million endothelial cells — known to help cardiomyocytes survive and function in a micro-environment — and two million smooth muscle cells, which line blood vessels.

Each patch was grown in a three-dimensional fibrin matrix that was rocked back and forth for a week. The cells begin to beat synchronously after one day.

This mixture of three cell types and the dynamic rocking produced more heart muscle cells that were more mature, with superior heart-muscle physiological function and contractive force.

The patches resembled native heart-muscle tissue in their physiological and contractile properties, the scientists noted.

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Gardening can make old people stay more healthy

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Germany, Jan 12: Indulging in gardening may not only keep older adults active but also boost their health and mental well-being, finds a study.

The findings showed that older women who spend more than three hours on household chores a day and got less or more than seven hours of sleep a night, were less likely to be in good health.

However, the researchers found that the similar criteria had no effect on the health of elderly men.

It is because older women spent more time doing repititive housework like cleaning and cooking, while men spent time in gardening and maintenance work, which is mentally very stimulating, the Daily Mail reported.

“The difference in the sexes’ health is probably to do with the type of housework women tend to do, which is a lot more repetitive and routine work, like cleaning and cooking. While this probably has some limited health benefits, it is not very physically active, is not really exercise and is not very stimulating mentally, which relates to physical health,” Nicholas Adjei, researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Germany, was quoted as saying by the paper.

“Men did much more active household chores, such as gardening and maintenance. The physical exertion is good for the health, with gardening involving digging, mowing and carrying soil. We think gardening and fixing things may also be more enjoyable than cleaning,” Adjei added.

For the study, researchers looked at more than 36,000 pensioners, who reported about their daily activities and general health. Healthiness was calculated based on participants’ answers to a questionnaire, in which they rated their health on a five-point scale from “poor” to “very good”.

The results showed that even taking away sleep, which can impact people’s health, men appear healthier when doing jobs around the house.

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